If Americans Knew

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
If Americans Knew logo

If Americans Knew is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the Arab–Israeli conflict and the foreign policy of the United States regarding the Middle East, offering analysis of American media coverage of these issues. Its mission, according to the group's website, is to provide "what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine."[1] The site is generally critical of U.S. financial and military support of Israel. It has accused The New York Times and other mainstream news organizations of being biased against Palestinians.[2][3]

In addition to the freelance journalist and founder Alison Weir,[4] board members include[4] Paul Findley, a former United States Representative, and Andrew Killgore, a former ambassador of the United States to Qatar.[5]

Background[edit]

According to the organization's website, founder Alison Weir traveled independently throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2001 and found a situation she considered to be different from what was being reported by the American media. She stated that the U.S. press portrayal was significantly at odds with that reported by media throughout the rest of the world, and that American citizens were being misinformed and uninformed on one of the most significant issues affecting them today. Weir therefore founded an organization that would reflect what she considered to be a more objective viewpoint.[6]

If Americans Knew states that it produces materials, assists in organizing public forums, and provides speakers and written materials to hundreds of events across the United States, including events hosted on the campuses of Harvard Law School, Stanford University, Columbia University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the University of California, Berkeley, Washington State University, Northwestern University, along with the Palestine Center, the National Press Club, the Naval Postgraduate School, and other university campuses, churches, libraries, and civic organizations.[7] Its website carries information and allegations about Israel and Palestine from a wide variety of sources.

Positions[edit]

The organization's stated goal is "to inform and educate the American public on issues of major significance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media," going on to say: "It is the goal of If Americans Knew to inform the American public accurately about [Israel-Palestine]. Most of all, it is to inform Americans about our enormous, and too often invisible, personal connection to it.".[8]

If Americans Knew maintains that US media are consistently Israeli-centric in their reporting, finding that a great many of the journalists reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have family and personal ties to the Israeli military."[9] The organization has conducted statistical studies on a variety of news organizations,[10] finding that they reported on Israeli deaths at rates many times greater than they reported on Palestinian deaths.[10]

If Americans Knew holds that United States' support of Israel should be reduced on the grounds that it is not in American interest[11] — that it interferes with American relations with the oil-producing nations, costs American taxpayers billions, is increasingly imperiling American lives, and prevents peace.

Executive Director Alison Weir writes that ending U.S. military aid to Israel would "help bring peace to the Middle East, build a safer world and alleviate massive misery."[12]

The site's homepage shows charts comparing the number of children killed from both sides since year 2000; it also shows the number of killed and injured people from both sides.[13]

It asserts that U.S. support of Israel has long been driven by lobbying on behalf of a foreign government, often via AIPAC, over the objections of State Department and Pentagon experts,[14] and in recent years by the efforts of a "growing number of individuals with close ties to Israel (known as neoconservatives)" in high-level U.S. Government positions.[11]

Criticism[edit]

If Americans Knew published a study critical of The New York Times coverage of Israeli and Palestinian deaths, and met with then New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent to discuss their study.[2][15] In subsequent column Okrent mentioned the meeting but dismissed IAK's conclusions.[16]

The Anti-Defamation League has criticized IAK's connections to the Council for the National Interest (of which IAK's board member Paul Findley is a founder) for disseminating what it considers to be anti-Israeli propaganda and for defending what it considers anti-semitic statements made by others in the media [17]

The Anti-Defamation League has called If Americans Knew one of several "anti-Israel organization[s]",[18] and further asserts that "Weir's criticism of Israel has, at times, crossed the line into anti-Semitism." They cited Weir's use of a quotation by Israel Shahak that characterized beliefs of certain Israelis as “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.”[19] Weir herself stated that she considered this quoted characterization as not pertaining to the mainstream of Judaism,[20] and has demanded that the ADL correct what she termed "defamatory and inaccurate statements."[21] The ADL voiced concern about an article written by board member Paul Findley in which he blamed America's relationship with Israel for the September 11 Attacks.[22]

Andy Newman, in an Op-ed in The Guardian, stated that "an article by Alison Weir... defends the unsubstantiated and implausible claims made by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet about Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinians in Gaza to harvest their organs. Weir implied, with no evidence, that Israel is at the centre of international organ smuggling. She then explicitly argued that the medieval "blood libel" – that Jews kill Christian children – has a basis in fact."[23] The 'Aftonbladet claims' refer to Donald Boström's accusations of Israeli organ harvesting.

In June 2015, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) informed Weir that they were terminating their working relationship with her and If Americans Knew, on the grounds that "she has consistently chosen to stay silent when given the opportunity to challenge bigotry, which we find repugnant. There is a fundamental difference between engaging with oppressive beliefs in order to challenge them, and tacitly or directly endorsing those beliefs without challenge." The JVP cited Weir's frequent guest appearances on the radio show The Free American, which is hosted by white supremacist Clay Douglas, as well as her relationship with American Free Press and "anti-Jewish pastor" Mark Dankof. While the JVP did not accuse Weir of holding anti-Jewish beliefs, the organization stated that Weir's repeated appearances and associations with white supremacists and anti-Semites and her failure to refute, debate or even object to their beliefs made it impossible for JVP to continue to work with her, stating that "Our objection to Weir's unwillingness to challenge or confront bigotry is rooted in the organizational values we hold most dear."[24][25]

Praise[edit]

If Americans Knew has been lauded by the liberal[26] media monitoring organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).[27]

Weir was given honorary membership in the Phi Alpha Literary Society at Illinois College in 2004, the award citing her as "Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights. The first woman to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha history."[28]

Board members[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ U.S. Interests and Israel/Palestine (If Americans Knew)
  2. ^ a b "Off the Charts - NY Times Coverage of Israeli & Palestinian Deaths". Ifamericansknew.org. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  3. ^ "Media Report Cards Grading Accuracy in News Coverage of Israel and Palestine". Ifamericansknew.org. Retrieved 2014-03-28. 
  4. ^ a b If Americans Knew - Who We Are
  5. ^ American Educational Trust: Andrew I. Killgore
  6. ^ If Americans Knew website. Retrieved August 2011
  7. ^ Deadly Distortion: U.S. Press Coverage of Israel and Palestine, Expert Alison Weir to speak by Jennifer Grosvenor (Portland Indymedia). Retrieved August 2011
  8. ^ Mission Statement
  9. ^ Media Reporting on Israel: All in the Family, CounterPunch, February 26-28, 2010
  10. ^ a b Media Report Cards
  11. ^ a b U.S. Interests and Israel/Palestine. Retrieved August 2011
  12. ^ Saving Americans by Saving Money, The Gilmer Mirror, June 21, 2009
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ The History of US-Israel Relations, Part I
  15. ^ Weir, Alison. "New York Times Distortion Up Close and Personal", April 24, 2005
  16. ^ The New York Times > Week in Review > The Public Editor: The Hottest Button: How The Times Covers Israel and Palestine
  17. ^ http://archive.adl.org/israel/anti_israel/alison_weir/if-americans-knew.html?m_flipmode=4
  18. ^ "Wheels of Justice: A Biased View of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict" December 29, 2006
  19. ^ ADL on Alison Weir
  20. ^ Alison Weir Greenwich Citizen April 4, 2008 (2008-04-04). "What Our Taxes to Israel are Funding". Ifamericansknew.org. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  21. ^ Weir, Alison (2009-02-13). "Journal - Anti-Defamation League Defames Me - My Letter to the ADL". AlisonWeir.org. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  22. ^ "Backgrounder: The Council for the National Interest (CNI)". Anti Defamation League. July 8, 2010. 
  23. ^ Gilad Atzmon, antisemitism and the left, The Guardian[2]
  24. ^ Letter to Alison Weir, Jewish Voice for Peace, June 14, 2015.
  25. ^ Jewish Voice for Peace Statement on Our Relationship with Alison Weir, June 15, 2015.
  26. ^ Are 'The New York Times' Book Reviews Fair? August 20, 2010, NPR
  27. ^ FAIR, Media Views, December 1, 2006
  28. ^ Juneau World Affairs Council to host author Alison Weir to speak, Sept. 26, 1009

External links[edit]